Tulsan's Halloween Decorations Carry Meaningful Message

Thursday, October 31st 2013, 10:15 pm
By: Tess Maune

A graveyard in the front yard of a Green Country home is sending a meaningful message to trick or treaters this Halloween.

At first glance, this yard looks like a typical yard full of Halloween decorations, but there's a sign front and center, explaining that the names on the headstones are real, as are the stories they represent.

"I just kind of turned into a mission," said Connie Dodson.

The 35 handmade headstones represent 45 children, who are no longer with us.

"Every one of them are true stories," Dodson said.

Almost every victim was from Oklahoma. Some of the names represent violent crimes. Others symbolize stories that are becoming all-too-common among teens today.

"She committed suicide after bullying," Dodson said, pointing to one of the headstones.

Connie Dodson came up with the graveyard nearly 20 years ago--a Halloween decoration, yes, but she wanted the children who came to her house to leave with more than just candy.

"They pull up, they get out of the car, they stand out, they read them. You can tell it's impacting, it's impacting the lives," Dodson said. "It's just a way to open their eyes, make them think."

10/14/2012 Related Story: Body Of Missing Tulsa Teen Recovered Sunday

There's a lesson to be learned with each name. The front row showcases some of the most recent crimes and deaths in the area. Dario Hogan, 14, was swept away while playing in a swollen Tulsa creek last October. Kayla Ferrante was killed by a stray bullet in case of mistaken identity in a gang-related hit, just one day after graduating high school in May 2012.

7/27/2012 Related Story: Arrest Made In Kayla Ferrante Murder; Witness Says It Was Mistaken ID In Gang Hit

"Their kids are still speaking to other children," Dodson said.

Voices that Dodson said will forever have a story to tell.

"If it saves one life and if it impacts the way one child thinks about the way he treats a fellow classmate or interacts with his fellow man, it's worth it."

But Dodson is sharing many older stories, as well, like the murder of Dena Dean, whose killer hasn't been found after 15 years.

2/26/2013 Related Story: Tulsa Family Still Waiting For Justice For Murdered Daughter After 15 Years

"She still touches people, every year, through this," Dodson said.

Dodson said Dean's parents were moved by the makeshift memorial when they visited it for the first time Wednesday.

"Her dad wanted to bring out a memento and asked if he could bring it out and put it by her stone in my yard and I told him, 'Absolutely,'" Dodson said. "I actually saw him with tears in his eyes."

You can check out Dodson's display at 13302 East 28th Street. She'll have it up for a week after Halloween.